Charlie Arlinghaus

May 6, 2015

As originally published in the New Hampshire Union Leader

Are you a Banana? New Hampshire has too many bananas and is suffering because of it. The world is populated with millions of us who seek to live in the modern world when we want to enjoy its conveniences and then turn on our back on that same world and hope that someone else with pay attention to the details that make that convenience possible.

There is a common aspect of human nature that infects so many decisions about the infrastructure that surrounds us. Most of us are familiar with the acronym NIMBY — an abbreviation for Not In My Back Yard. You picture someone saying “that’s a great idea, we should have one of those but not in my back yard. It would better in yours. Big giant compost heap in your yard and we can use mine to sip lemonade.

New Hampshire’s response to infrastructure has always had a bit of a NIMBY element to it. But lately we seem to have graduated to tropical fruit. Our best acronym now is BANANA — Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything. Every new project is opposed for some reason or another, often for any reason at all. There seems to be an active and vocal group traipsing from one meeting to another seeking to stop anything new from happening.

The problem with these banana people that the status quo is a bad thing and needs to be changed not preserved. The state has spent decades pretending everything is fine with its electricity markets and that nothing needs to happen. and it’s killing us.

Slowly but surely the dynamism that used to be our job market has turned to stagnation. Mediocre job growth means people don’t move here much, younger people can’t stay even if they want to, and too many Granite Staters have to work in Boston or some other place at the end of a horrific commute

And the biggest hole in our competitive armor is electricity.

The fight for jobs needs to be fought on as many fronts as possible but on the electricty cost front we’re not just losing but getting routed.

Last week, new data was released about just how bad we are and how much worse we’re getting. Then again, a glance at your own electric bill probably told you everything is not fine.

In February, New Hampshire’s electric rates were 68% higher than the national average. This is even worse than a year ago when we were an already too high 54% above average. To add insult to injury, we are least competitive in the area we need to be most competitive: the industrial sector. The grotesque 86% above average rates of a year ago for industrial users have ballooned to 105% above average.

This is not a minor expense. It amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars of costly drag on our economic competitiveness.

Think about it this way: the companies that create the best paying jobs in the high tech and manufacturing sectors — the areas we would give our eye teeth to attract — would see double the electric bill if they had the misfortune to locate here. And your banana friends think that’s fine.

If you believe a banana, life is grand and all those people worried about jobs are just being silly. Actually, if we’re being fair most of them don’t care. Their analysis has only gone as far don’t build it. They presume the juice for their iPhone and electric car will materialize some other way. Exactly how is someone else’s problem.

The someone else is us. It’s our problem. We can read the numbers and realize that New Hampshire is on the verge of becoming a backwater. The dynamic state we once were is now limping along, sore and bedraggled.

Stagnation and electric costs are not two different things. Reducing the cost of electricity requires having more of it. Having more of it requires building things — the infrastructure necessary to create a modern life, to power the machinery and technology that are part of well paying jobs.

No one would suggest we build everything anyone wants but we have a big problem and it will require living in a modern world (I live a few hundred feet from a power line). We are going to have to allow more building and fewer bananas.

3 replies
  1. William Fortune
    William Fortune says:

    WAY TO GO CHARLIE !

    INDUSTRIAL CONSULTANTS INC_______________________________________________
    29 GEORGE BENNETT ROAD, LEE, NH 03861 603 365 0251
    indust.consult@rcn.com

    AS THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS FIDDLE WITH SOLAR and PhDs STUDY, THE EARTH BURNS

    “More Money, More AC… and More Problems for Developing World
    BERKELEY, Calif.—Increasing wealth in developing countries is driving increased demand for air conditioning. However, this also has a detrimental effect of increasing the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One study found that residential electricity use could increase more than 80% by 2100. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and the National Bureau of Economic Research say that this trend is detrimental because it reverses years of efforts to decrease GHG emissions. The problem, they find, will be most prevalent in warm or tropical countries with large populations. China, for instance, has seen a doubling of air conditioner sales in just the last five years. The study also finds that demand will be huge in India, where there are “more than three times as many cooling degree days per person” than in the United States. The “culprit,” the researchers found, is as incomes rise, people everywhere seek and can afford more comfort. A separate report by Dearman, a technology company that provides cooling and power solutions, finds that due to changing demographics, particularly in Asia, the number of refrigerated vehicles on the road could feasibly reach 15.5 million by 2025, up from less than 3 million in 2013. This rapid expansion in cold transportation is said to also reflect the growth of more affluent lifestyles of urbanized populations in developing countries. However, this report finds that “if this growth in demand occurs without new technologies being introduced, the environmental effects could be devastating.” A conventional diesel-powered transport refrigeration unit can emit up to six times as much NOx and up to 29 times as much particulate matter as a modern diesel heavy goods vehicle (HGV) engine.”
    Global warming/climate change or not, we need to BUILD clean, private industry by allowing people to invest TAX FREE. The technologies already exists; see Transatomic Power from MIT and NHcleanenergy.com. Burning anything to generate electricity is absolutely NOT necessary. And burning wood produces “black carbon” and is not as Green as people think (if they think at all).
    Private jobs produce good and services that people want to purchase, while government jobs are a parasitic burden on society. As more private sector jobs are created, fewer social aid programs are needed, raising peoples sense of self worth and becoming a asset to society instead of a problem.

    Bill Fortune
    P.S. Rate payers pay about double for electricity produced by burning wood ! “stupid does as stupid is”.

    Reply
  2. Paul O'Brien
    Paul O'Brien says:

    Let’s take a deep breadth here… The people of the State of New Hampshire want only the best for their families and their posterity. And they also reject quick and dirty solutions to complex problems. So rather than call out the people why don’t we ask the pols to show us a shared vision for energy which includes avoiding digging up our wetlands and throwing up 19th century old world electric towers.
    This is a problem that business, venture and government can fix if we simply put our minds together and stop the childish name calling.

    Reply
  3. William Fortune
    William Fortune says:

    “Shared vision”; are you kidding ? People can’t see beyond their nose, and you think that they have a vision or are even capable of a “vision”.
    The only vision the majority have is solar, wind and more solar wind and more solar; it’s words they know, but don’t understand and have no concept of what’s needed or what solar and wind are capable of.
    I haven’t found anyone in the Legislature that understands or knows what it costs to produce electricity or what the taxes are on electricity and the people know even less.
    And people don’t want solutions, just more regulations and taxes.
    And I bet Mr. O’Brien, that if I showed you some of the proposed solutions you would poo-poo them because they are beyond your ability to comprehend.
    And BTW, the regulators in Washington are requiring at least 10 more years to study and get more funding before they will approve any new technology. So you are stuck with MORE “old world electric towers” for the next, at least 20 years or until we give the Chinese or Russians enough $ to do it for us.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *